Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Cover that Wasn't

This post kicks off my Day of the Dead trilogy of posts.

I attempted to make a cover for RubberStampMaddness. This was back months ago because magazines put out their calls for submissions far in advance.
My submission was inspired by stamps from Lost Coast Designs and they were new at the time. So I just went ahead and did what I liked figuring if I didn't think it was great, I didn't have to send it in.

I liked it. So I sent it in. Unfortunately, another cover was chosen. (A very nice work, BTW.)  But this is the important part: I got a very nice note about how my work made the decision a tough call. That was just as good as a cover to me. Never underestimate the power of telling someone how close it came even if the end result isn't good news. The fact the this piece was "good enough" for someone else made a world of difference.

Rejection is always hard to swallow. The writing of an encouraging "let-down" note has to be an art form. Every little positive thing makes a huge difference to artists who can't find value in their work...yet. Every little negative thing is one more reason to keep working the day job and submitting to the little practical voice inside your head that insists you'll never be good.

Every piece of art has a little story behind it,  or a little mystery, or a little whoopsy. Those little things that may or may not be evident in the work itself adds another layer of depth to the work. I'm coming to understand that it's this layer, this not-so-evident layer that separates good from great. That layer is what some people can see or feel and that's what calls to them, draws them in. That's where we all come together in artwork. I'm only scratching the surface of this layer so far but I'm falling in deeper as the practice goes on.

The Cover that Wasn't:  I decided to use the skeleton angel and a couple crows from Lost Coast Designs. I knew I wanted the angel to stand out from the rest and draw the eye in to the center. I knew the top part had to be pretty empty to accommodate the header of the magazine. I attempted a couple trials to figure out the placement of the birds and finally decided on two rather than three. It dawned on me to add gravestones. Where else would this angel appear but in a cemetery? The background of birch trees and feathers allowed the work a bit of depth. The two large feathers just added a nice arch above the angel.

I wanted the crows to be dark but I didn't want to color them so dark that the pattern got lost. Purple seemed to work best.

The background is ink blended Distress Ink. I moved out from the center after having masked off all my stamps. I also laid down a stencil of the birch trees before I inked. The colors were Twisted Citron, Peeled Paint, Pumice Stone, and Hickory Smoke. I wanted to light the angel as if the green crown was the light source. Before I lifted the stencil, I also stamped all the little feathers in the background. That's how I got some to look like they are behind the tree trunks. After I lifted the stencil, I stamped a few over the top so they appeared in front of the trunks as well. The large feathers are a layering stamp.

I practiced the coloring of the angel to see how I wanted it to look. I needed to try out where the color would go and what to highlight. The only white I wanted to see was her skull and arms. I knew I wanted to use neon colors because...they're awesome. But I was unsure about doing the rest of her in gray. I considered a deep blue or purple but I just liked the look of the gray. The pops of black allowed a lot of the detail of this stamp to shine.

Though I did this project some time ago, I think you can see why I saved it till October.

Even though this piece didn't make a cover, I may have other plans for it.
"Soft may the worms about her creep."  --Edgar Allan Poe

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